For the writer who is penning inspirational historical romance:
Inspirational historical romance is meant to touch the heart of a reader and to remind them there is hope in our most challenging moments. As the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Historicals are more than stories with dates and events. Historicals are meant to take the reader back to a time and place where people went through things we go through today. We write it to entertain, yes. But our novels should also enhance what readers know historically.
Our books should be a safe haven from the secular novels that glorify the flesh and push lust rather than self-sacrificing love. Faith is an element, and a part of our characters lives, without preaching a sermon. Inspirational historical fiction allows the reader to 'see' the sermon, rather than 'hear' one.
What readers want:
They want the love between the hero and the heroine to be from the heart as they face adversity. In most secular historical romances lust is often the foundation of the characters’ relationships and the conquest of the hero to conquer the heroine. Readers of inspirational fiction want the absence of explicit sexual content and offensive language. Readers are looking for stories of hope.
Secular historical romances leave out the spiritual. They are written for readers who do not want a faith element in the books they read. That sums up the difference in a nutshell—the absence of the spiritual.
I do wish more secular readers would give Christian fiction a try, especially historicals. In days long ago, people were more religious than we are led on to believe. Even in romances such as Sense & Sensibility and Jane Eyre, there are spiritual aspects that are carefully woven into the stories. Colonel Brandon is compassionate and caring, so much so that his love for Marianne is withheld so she may find her own happiness. He is self-sacrificing, and in the end it is his love that is shown true, opposed to Willoughby who is a lustful, self-serving man.
In Jane Eyre we have a loving, virtuous heroine, whose challenge on many levels is her feelings for the tortured Mr. Rochester. It is obvious Jane’s purpose is to rescue Rochester from depression, self-loathing, and deception. Instead of living with him, she leaves him, and he is confronted with his depravity.
Not long ago I read a blog by a Christian man slamming Christian romances, warning girls should not read them because they fill their heads with expectations that are not reality. This may be true for some romances that are dulled down from adversity, where everything is perfect and sweet. But not for all. Many Christian novels address the realities of life that people face today so readers can relate to the character's dilemma. Perhaps there are not as many as readers would hope. This is where readers come in.
Tell us what you want.
What issues would you like to see Christian novelists address?
What is it that keeps you engaged and turning the pages?
Authors will listen. Let's hope publishers will as well.